Whitewater: Scandal or Witch Hunt
Media Muckraking and Partisan Politics Distory Recent Investigations

UCSD Guardian Opinion
January 21, 1997

For more than four years Whitewater has played an important role in the Clinton Administration. Clinton's reaction to the charges and investigation have provided plenty of ammunition for his opponents and comedians alike. However, with the start of his second term beginning yesterday, I believe that it is time for this investigation to leave the spotlight only to return when it deserves our full attention.

Right now, Whitewater only serves to detract from the more pressing issues that our nation faces. For the past four months, no action concerning the case has occurred. A search on the Internet brings up hundreds of pages of opinion and jokes, but no real news since August. It seems to be obvious that there is a party controlling Whitewater that does not care about the outcome as long as it hurts Clinton and his administration. This group includes many important members of the Republican Party.

Whitewater had merely been a failed real-estate scheme from the bad old eighties until the eyes of the news media fell upon it during Clinton's rise during the 1992 election. The Clintons told a little white lie and the matter was dropped. The issue came up again in 1993 after the Clinton's trusted friend and aide Vince Foster was found shot to death in a Washington, D.C. park. This time both the press and the members of Congress took an interest in the case.

By 1994, Congress and others had lost faith in the Clinton Administration's ability to handle the case and a independent counsel was appointed. Seven months later, Kenneth Starr was chosen to replace the previous counsel. Starr, with the full support of the Justice Department, is responsible for leading the attack against those involved in the Whitewater matter. This past summer, one of the important figures in the case, Susan McDougal, was found guilty of embezzlement and contempt of court.

A year-long investigation by a Senate committee found no wrongdoing had been committed by the president throughout the entire affair.

The investigation continues with no end in sight. It is hard to believe that Whitewater would remain an issue for such a long time without someone stoking the fire and fault lies among many &emdash; the Republicans and the Clinton Administration.

The Republicans obviously have something to gain if they could try and pin something unethical onto President Clinton and most likely stop at nothing to achieve it. Look at the tremendous effort taken by members of the Republican Party to pin the Clintons against Whitewater. In the Senate, they placed watchdog Alfonse D'Amato to the head of the investigation committee. D'Amato, who is considered by some to be ethically challenged, seems to have been an odd choice for party elite to choose unless he could be trusted to give the Clintons and their staff the hardest time possible and in the time of a year he has.

Another excellent point to bring up is that the so-called "independent counsel," Kenneth Starr, is in fact a conservative Republican activist representing many clients that support the Republican Party. Starr has retained his tabacco industry clients and other parties that donate heavily to the Republican Party.

The rhetoric that Starr is truly free of any significant conflict of interest seems to be dubious at best. The reason why the last independent counsel, Robert Fiske, was dismissed was because of a possible conflict of interest because his firm had represented a company that had bought Whitewater property. Starr's firm represented this company, but Starr himself represented the company

This would account as more of a conflict of interest than Fiske's situation and .yet the Republicans find nothing wrong with the situation. Of course considering the terrific job Starr has done, I wouldn't be complaining either.

However, credit does not belong entirely to Starr. A considerable amount of credit must go to the Clintons whose poor handling of the case will go down in the annals of history.

The Clintons, trying to calm down the hype that the press had stirred up, tried to minimize the situation. Sometimes, this attempt crossed the line of ethics laid down in law. After Foster's death, Mrs. Clinton took it upon herself to try and resolve the situation by holding a press conference. This meeting did not satisfy and later created an embarrassing situation because she made a statement that was later proven to be false.

Another ugly incident occurred when Clinton files subpoenaed by Starr mysteriously turned up on table in the White House. Innocent mistake or a result of malevolent intent, it still adversely effected the public's opinion of the Clintons, Mrs. Clinton in particular.

It looks like that the Clintons have built this tremendous hole for themselves. Several analysts believe that most of the Clintons' trouble could have been averted if they had simply told the truth in the first place. The question arises, why didn't the Clintons tell the truth.

It is my belief that the Clintons tried to cover up a situation that shouldn't have been covered up. The truth would have been a far less painful than the pot of hot water than they are in.

The best way to find out the truth is to let Whitewater drop into the background. Without the attention from the press and the constant pressure from the Republican Party, the truth would eventually come out. With the constant attention, the Clintons will only make the truth harder to find. Let Whitewater slip back into the stream of consciousness, let the more pressing matters take the attention of the matter. Whitewater should only return to the spotlight when there is something concrete and not more examples of political corruption.